New Jersey Devils vs Pittsburgh Penguins (2/18 @ 5:30 PM EST)
Puck Line: Devils -1.5 (+196)
Money Line: Devils -120 / Pens +100
Overview and Betting Info
The New Jersey Devils (35-14-5) will head to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins (27-17-9) in a Saturday evening showdown. These teams have met twice this season, with the Devils winning both games. The Devils are currently second in the Metro with 75 points, while the Pens are fourth with 63 points.
The Devils are 27-27 against the spread this season and have covered 18 of their 27 road games. They have gone over the total 24 times, 12 of which came on the road.
The Pens are 24-30 versus the spread but have covered just seven of their 25 home games. They have gone over the total 24 times, 13 of which came at home.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils come into Saturday having won four of their last six games. They lost on Thursday to the Blues but remain second in the Metro. Their offense has been fantastic, ranking seventh in scoring (3.43 GF/GP) and fourth in shots (34.1 S/GP). Their defense has been excellent, ranking fourth in goals (2.65 GA/GP) and allowed shots (28.7 S/GP). They have struggled a bit with power plays, converting 17.7% (20th) and killing 83.6% (14th). New Jersey is one of the best road teams in the league, with a record of 20-4-3.
The Devils’ offense is led by Jack Hughes (35 G, 32 A, +15), Jesper Bratt (21 G, 32 A, +18), and Nico Hischier (21 G, 26 A, +17). Hughes has missed the Devils’ last few games but is set to return on Saturday. He has been incredible of late, with 23 points last month and three in his lone February game. Hughes has dominated the Pens, with three goals and an assist in their two meetings. Bratt had 16 points last month but has just three in his five February games. Hischier has a goal and assist against the Pens this season but has been ice-cold of late. He has just one point over his last seven games.
Dougie Hamilton (15 G, 37 G) and Jonas Siegenthaler (2 G, 13 A) are the Devils’ top defensive pairing. Hamilton is third in points for the Devils (52), four of which came against the Pens (2 G, 2 A). He has 6 points already this month, thanks to taking 21 shots in his last six games. Siegenthaler is more defensive-minded, with just one point in his previous 13 games. Keep an eye on Damon Severson (4 G, 14 A) and Ryan Graves (6 G, 12 A), as both are solid defenders who can also add assists on offense.
The Devils are expected to start Vitek Vancecek (23-5-3, 2.31 GA/G, 91.6% SV), who ranks fifth in the NHL in wins. He is 2-0-1 this month, allowing eight goals in three games while saving 90.8% of shots. This season, he started both games against the Pens, going 2-0 and allowing three combined goals.
The Pens come into Saturday looking to hold on to one of the coveted wild card spots. This will be their first game home after a four-game road trip that saw them go 2-2. That includes a 5-4 loss to the Islanders last night. They’ve been average on offense, ranking fourteenth in goals (3.24 GF/GP) and power play percentage (19.4%) despite being fifth in shots (33.4 S/GP). Their defense has been about the same, ranking seventeenth in goals allowed (3.11 GA/GP), fourteenth in penalty kill percentage (80.5%), and twenty-ninth in shots allowed (33.9 S/GP). The Pens have been solid at home, with a record of 15-6-4.
The Pens are again led by Sidney Crosby (25 G, 42 A, +9) and Evgeni Malkin (19 G, 35 A). Crosby is having another fantastic season, ranking tenth in the NHL in points (67). He has seven points in his five games since the All-Star game, with one goal and six assists. This season, Sid the Kid has one goal on four shots against the Devils. Malkin is having a solid season but has gone pointless with just three shots over his last three games. Malkin did score in their December meeting with the Devils. The pair are joined by another fantastic season from Jake Guentzel (23 G, 27 A), who is on pace to set a career-high in points. The forward has three goals and an assist in their last four games, making him a player to watch on Saturday.
The Pens blueline is led by a top pairing of Brian Dumoulin (0 G, 12 A) and Kris Letang (5 G, 17 A). Dumoulin is the better defender, but the pair have not done a great job of preventing shots. Letang is more involved in the offense, but injuries have limited him to just 15 games over the last three months. He has not played the Devils yet this season, which could give the Pens the edge in their third meeting.
Pittsburgh has been without top goalie Tristan Jarry (16-5-5, 2.65 GA/G, 32.1% SV), who has been out of the lineup with a mystery injury. He traveled with the team to play the Islanders, but the Pens have not released a timetable for his return. That means the Pens will need to choose between backup Casey Smith (10-12-4, 3.25 GA/G, 90.4% SV) or reserve Dustin Tokarski (1-1-0, 3.20 GA/G, 89.3%). Smith has filled in fantastically, going 3-2 this month and saving 91.6% of shots. He did get the start last night, which means Tokarski may end up getting the start. The reserve has just one start this season, but he filled in for Smith last weekend to allow three goals in just 38 minutes.
Free Pick: Pens ML +100
This is a tough one (especially without knowing who will be in goal for the Pens), but we are leaning toward the Pens in this one. Part of the reason is where both are on their schedules. The Pens played last night but finally get home after being on the road for over a week. Conversely, the Devils are now on their fourth straight road game after a tour of the Midwest. We saw the Devils show signs of cracking during the trip, dropping games against the Wild and Blues while edging out the Blue Jackets in a 3-2 win. None are overly impressive, and the Pens will present much more of a challenge.
Another reason for the pick is the Letang and Malkin both being cold of late. They are too good for that to remain, especially considering Malkin’s lack of shots. A trip back home could be the thing both need to break out and give the Pens a badly needed win against a division rival.
We’re taking the Pens to win at home tonight